M103 Heavy Tank

M103 Heavy Tank, 1:87 Scale Model ROCO 182.

The M103 Heavy Tank was developed at the beginning of the Cold War with the express purpose of engaging and defeating Soviet JS-3 and T-10 heavy tanks at long range. Like its British counterpart, the Conqueror, the M103 was heavily armed and armoured, but very expensive, much too heavy for the bridges in Central Europe, seriously underpowered and very slow, as a result. Although the M103 quickly proved to be a failure, and was superseded by the successful M60 Patton, the US Armed Forces continued their quest for a heavy tank with a number of new designs, none of which continued beyond the prototype stage. The 1:87 scale ROCO model of the M103 heavy tank pictured above has been painted «Marine Corps Green», like some of the museum vehicles on display in Great Britain and the USA.

Available Scale Model Kits

  • M103 Heavy Tank, 1:35 Commander Series Models CSM1058
  • M103A1 Heavy Tank (US Marine Corps), 1:35 Dragon Models 3548
  • M103 Heavy Tank, 1:72 OKB Grigorov 72013
  • M103 Heavy Tank, 1:87 ROCO 182
  • M103 Heavy Tank, 1:108 Authenticast
  • M103 Heavy Tank, 1:120 QRF Models PAT05
  • M103 Heavy Tank, 1:300 Heroics & Ros USM56

Technical Specifications

  • M103 Heavy Tank
  • Type: heavy tank
  • Engine: Continental AV1790, 12-cylinder, air-cooled, with 560 kW
  • Maximum Speed: 34 km/h on roads, 24 km/h cross-country
  • Fuel Capacity: 710 l
  • Average Range: 130 km on roads
  • Length: 6910 mm
  • Width: 3710 mm
  • Height: 3200 mm
  • Weight: 59 t
  • Armament: 120 mm Gun M58, with 34 rounds, two .30 cal. (7,62 mm) machine-guns M1919A4E1 (co-axial), and one .50 cal. (12.7 mm) M2 anti-aircraft machine-gun
  • Crew: Commander, Driver, Gunner, and two Loaders
  • Production: 1953–1954 (300 units T43E1)

Chrysler in Newark had built a series of 300 T43E1 heavy tanks from 1953 to 1954, which turned out to be useless and were put into storage in August of 1955. Following a great number of improvements, these vehicles were redesignated M103 Heavy Tank and returned to service. The US Army received 80 M103 heavy tanks, and the US Marine Corps the remaining 220 vehicles which served in an infantry support role.

M103 Heavy Tank, 1:87 Scale Model ROCO 182

Historical Employment

  • 2nd Battalion, 33rd Armor Regiment, US Army, 1957–1963
  • One M103 Tank Company per Marine Tank Battalion, US Marine Corps, 1957–1973

The US Army deactivated its heavy tanks in 1963 and replaced them with the new M60 Patton main battle tank. The US Marine Corps retained its M103 heavy tanks until M60 Patton tanks became available in 1973. Even though the M103 heavy tank never saw combat it is a valuable model for wargamers interested in recreating fictitious Cold War battles in miniature.


  • Estes, Kenneth: M103 Heavy Tank 1950-74 (2013)

Cold War Miniatures